TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Gangsters - James Cagney (White Heat / City for Conquest / Each Dawn I Die / G Men)
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WHITE HEAT (1949) "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" Cagney's Cody Jarrett--a psychotic thug devoted to his tough-as-nails mother--is the searing centerpiece of this blazing, fast-paced thriller. CITY FOR CONQUEST (1940) Club fighter Cagney turns pro to bankroll his composer brother's dream of writing the great New York City symphony. But life pulls the sidewalk out from under them in an intensely moving saga co-starring Ann Sheridan. EACH DAWN I DIE (1939) Two of the screen's famed tough guys--Cagney as a reporter framed for manslaughter and George Raft as a big-house racketeer--headline this prison movie that casts a reform-minded eye on the brutalizing effects of life in the slammer. "G" MEN (1935) Four years after starring in The Public Enemy, Cagney waged on-screen war against the nation's public enemies as a zealous FBI agent in a movie "fast, gutsy, as simplistic and powerful as a tabloid headline" (Time Out Film Guide).
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When I was a kid I'd watch old movies with my dad. When I was 13, I wasn't paying that much attention till The Public Enemy. In the very last scene when he's propped up at the front door, with bloody bandages and a blanket tied around him, and when his brother opens the door and he wavers a bit and then falls flat on his face, dead...well...I asked breathlessly, "who is THAT??" I've been a diehard fan ever since.
This particular collection holds some of my favorites. It's funny how this great dancer has to play a guy with 2 left feet so Ann Sheridan can go off and live her dream dancing with that cad, Anthony Quinn, in one of his earliest roles in City for Conquest.
In G-Men, Warner Bros thought they could modify his gangster stereotype by making him join the FBI. He still had criminal connections. But this movie demonstrates the time that FBI agents were first given permission to carry guns and be able to cross state lines: truly federal.
Each Dawn I Die is so interesting: he saves George Raft who then neglects him unfairly. Even though the warden learns that Cagney is innocent, he still has to undergo the savage punishment of standing, handcuffed to the bars of the cell door...in solitary...for 8 hours a day. This is a powerful showcase of a man being framed for murder, maintaining his humanity, losing his humanity, and then regaining it at the end of the movie in a well-produced violent prison uprising.
And then there's White Heat. The contemporary coverage at the time said no other actor could pull off sitting on his mother's lap. And during the scene when he goes nuts after hearing his Ma was dead, when he leapt up on the table and ran around like an animal in pain, smacking every prison guard in sight, the hundreds of extras in this cafeteria scene genuinely thought the actor had lost it. For authenticity, the director had not announced what the scene was about: and you can see it on their shocked faces!
I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that this is a collection well worth seeing.
A four movie, four-disk collection of gangster films staring the incomparable James Cagney. The disks are housed is a standard hard DVD case which slides into a cardboard sleeve. For the price - - a very nice package. I particularly like each movie on an individual disk with retro artwork on the disk too. Nice to loan and if one gets messed up you don't lose two or even all four films.
City for Conquest - 1940
"G' Men - 1935
Each Dawn I Die - 1939
White Heat - 1949
Several short subjects pertaining to the 1930's or the films accompany each movie.
WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIES!
Fantastic - must sees! If you have never viewed these films before you are in for a real treat. Cagney is one of the movies true, original screen personas. I enjoyed all the films but "White Heat" is a personal and critical favorite. After seeing this film you'll know why the phrase: "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" is a so well know by film lovers.
I have no knowledge of the technology employed but these 70 plus year old black and white movies are a visual treat. Images are sharp and clear and the audio is noise free.
This is my 3rd Turner Classic Movies set and for the price and quality I have no problem recommending them.